targeting insurgents in northern Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U. S. -led
multinational troops and Iraqi security forces launched an operation
Thursday to oust "anti-Iraqi" fighters who have overrun the northern
Iraqi city of Tall 'Afar, the U. S. military said.
The U. S. military has identified Tall 'Afar -- 30 miles west of Mosul -- as "a suspected haven for terrorists crossing into Iraq from Syria. "
fighting left 45 people dead -- 22 of whom were believed to have been
gunmen, hospital officials said. Dr. Rabi Yassin, director
Mosul's health department, said many of the other victims were
At least 70 other people were injured, some of them children,
"Tall 'Afar hospital could not handle that number of wounded,
so we sent ambulances from other hospitals in Mosul," Yassin said.
Yassin said "the new Iraqi army banned ambulances that were carrying medical aid from entering Tall 'Afar, although the hospital was really in need of that stuff. "
A U. S. military statement said American and Iraqi forces "are allowing ambulances to enter in and out of Tall 'Afar after being searched. This precaution is necessary because terrorists in Tall 'Afar have used ambulances to move about the city. "
have been detained, all suspected of "anti-Iraqi" activities, the
military said. U. S. and Iraqi forces have also confiscated
weapons and munitions.
operation comes after [multinational] and Iraqi security forces were
repeatedly attacked by a large terrorist element that has displaced
local Iraqi security forces throughout the recent weeks," according to
the coalition press office.
"Numerous attacks in the past two weeks not only targeted [multinational] and Iraqi security forces, but civilians as well. These attacks by terrorist groups included rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms fire, mortars and roadside bombs, and resulted in civilian casualties. "
Multinational forces also
launched "a coordinated and precise maneuver to secure the highway
surrounding the city," the military said.
"This main road has been the site of numerous attacks on multinational forces and Iraqi security forces by rocket propelled grenades, mortars and roadside bombs. "
Insurgents at the Al Huda Mosque and other city buildings attacked the forces securing the highway, the U. S. military said, noting that "the use of protected holy sites to conduct these kinds of attacks violates the law of war. "
Soldiers returned fire toward the insurgents.
hundreds of the city's citizens have fled in the last several days,
many of those remaining left today in the face of the terrorist
attacks," the military said.
Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman
with Task Force Olympia, said the number of anti-Iraqi forces in the
city is estimated at between 250 and 300.
On Saturday, a military
helicopter went down during heavy fighting in Tall 'Afar.
fired rocket-propelled grenades at a Stryker armored vehicle securing
the site, disabling the vehicle.
The military said the Nineveh
provincial Gov. Duraid Kashmoula "has been working with sheikhs
local leaders in the area to bring about peace and stability to the
"However, attempts at a peaceful solution have failed, resulting in the courageous decision by local Iraqi leaders to initiate operations to free Tall 'Afar of the terrorists and to restore order. "
Kashmoula's son, Laith Duraid Kashmoula, was assassinated
said the son was driving to work when assailants pulled up next to his
car and opened fire with small arms. He was an employee in the
government's anti-corruption office in Mosul, the largest city in the
northern Iraqi province.
The governor's cousin and the previous governor of Nineveh
province, Usama Kashmoula, was shot dead in an ambush two months ago.